Results of the Sörnäinen campus art competition are here – the winning entries featured a climate ritual, bat house and camera obscura

Three artists shared the first prize, and the university will now negotiate with all of them and discuss how their works could be further developed and ultimately realised for the new campus facilities, set to be completed next year.

Uniarts Helsinki organised an open art competition in collaboration with the State Art Commission to find ideas for works of art that could be installed in the university’s new building that is under construction on Sörnäisten rantatie. The competition ran from 12 June to 15 September 2020. The first prize in the art competition was awarded toIlmastorituaali – ritualistinen seminaariteos by Mikki Noroila, BABA MAMA YAGA by Benjamin Orlow andKäännekohta by Kristian Jalava.

Each of the artists who shared the first prize will receive a prize of 4,000 euros. The university will now negotiate with all three artists and discuss how their entries could be further developed and ultimately realised in the new campus building.

“Our wish was to receive entries that would consider the activities of the building and the fact that the Academy of Fine Arts is a place of creating new and experimental art. The most interesting proposals highlighted a process-like nature, took students into consideration and were distinctively contemporary. By that I mean that the works had an interesting connection to the current ways of doing things and to the discussions that are going on in the arts and culture sector,” says Dean of Uniarts Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts Hanna Johansson, who was consulted as an expert by the jury of the art competition. 

The new facilities are being built for the use of Uniarts Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts, in particular. It will also provide facilities for the university’s shared functions and for the Theatre Academy’s programmes in lighting design, sound design and design for the performing arts.

What made the art competition special was that the purpose was to find ideas for works of art for a building used by artists. In addition to traditional forms of art such as sculptures, painting and installations, the jury also welcomed intangible and temporally limited works of art, which is also reflected on the winning entries.

The entry by Mikki Noroila is simultaneously an intervention that will take place at the Academy of Fine Arts as well as a social sculpture. The work by Benjamin Orlow is a sculpture made of bronze, wood and concrete, and its interior space serves as a large bat house, a cave-like habitat for animals. Kristian Jalava’s work, on the other hand, makes use of the physical structures of the new building as part of the process of creating an image: it transforms a darkened space into a large pinhole camera, a camera obscura.

“All three winning entries are temporal, but they all take advantage of time and duration in very different ways. Noroila’s Ilmastorituaali (Climate Ritual) boldly expands the limits of a commissioned work for a public space and suggest that a public work of art can be in direct interaction with the content of artist education and the academy’s activities. Orlow’s work is open for various interpretations. The concept of a bust of a quintessentially masculine, yet ruined and broken man who offers a home for the city’s bats on the roof of the Academy of Fine Arts is thrilling and charming, too. The sculpture sticks out and causes confusion but doesn’t directly tell people passing by what it’s about. Kristian Jalava’s Käännekohta (Turning Point) is a kind of watchful eye over the building, and the long exposure time results in negative images of sceneries seen by the building, captured on a black-and-white paper. The site-specific method highlights the relationship between the building and its surroundings,” Johansson analyses. 

In addition to selecting three winning entries, the jury also awarded three artists with 3,000 euros: Tuula Närhinen with her work PASSAGE, Henriikka Kontimo with her work Kello 25:59 and Jani Ruscica with his work Kuva/Pic.

The competition received a total of 112 entries, and 108 of them met the requirements stated in the competition brief.

The new building, set to be completed in 2021, will be part of Uniarts Helsinki’s Sörnäinen Campus focusing on fine arts, theatre and dance. The new building will cater to the needs of the Academy of Fine Arts, in particular, and the campus also consists of the current Theatre Academy facilities. Uniarts Helsinki also has a campus in Töölö, providing a home base for music studies. 

Further information:

Hanna Johansson

Henri Terho
tel. 0295330901

The winning entries and honorary mentions as well as the jury report will be available online from 13 October 2020 to 9 April 2021 on the competition website.

To see images of the winning entries, go to, password: valtiontaide